Preview>>formula Drift 2009

You have already seen our preview stories on the upcoming European drift season and the 2009 Japanese D1GP series, so now let's continue with a preview of the 2009 Formula Drift season, which will kick off in just over two weeks on the famous street course in downtown Long Beach. 2009 marks the fifth year of Formula D and there are a lot of changes this year for both the series and its drivers.

Schedule-wise, 2009 looks very similar to last year. Here's a quick rundown of this year's points schedule-

Round 1 – April 10th and 11th – Streets of Long Beach

Round 2 – May 8th and 9th – Road Atlanta

Round 3 – June 5th and 6th – Township Raceway Park New Jersey

Round 4 – July 10th and 11th – Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Round 5 – August 7th and 8th – Evergreen Speedway, Monroe Washington

Round 6 – September 12th – Infineon Raceway, Sonoma, California

Round 7- October 16th and 17th – Irwindale Speedway

The biggest change for the 2009 Formula Drift series is the move to a top 32 tandem competition format, instead of the top 16 format that's been used in the past. The new format should be a way to add some more excitement to each round, as we saw during the Red Bull World Drifting Championship last November.

And now let's take a look at some of the new cars for '09 and other stories to look for this season. There isn't room here to look at every single new car for 2009, but this should cover the bulk of them.

When it comes to pure momentum, I don't think there's any FD driver looking as good right now as Vaughn Gittin Jr. is. He's coming off his incredible Japan tour and his new 2010 Ford Mustang GT drift car is dialed in and ready to rock for the '09 season. As long as there are no reliability issues with the car, the 2009 season could very well be JR's for the taking.

Ah yes, the car that stirred up quite a bit of "discussion" here last month – Rhys Millen's Hyundai Genesis. All arguments about the car aside, it's always difficult transitioning from a proven car like Millen's old Pontiac Solstice to an all new one (let alone a car like the Genesis that no one's ever drifted before). All eyes will be on Rhys this year to see how he does in Hyundai's first ever rear-drive sports car.

For 2009 Samuel Hubinette will be saying goodbye to his Viper and jumping behind the wheel of this all new Dodge Challenger. Just like his four-door Charger a couple years ago, the large Challenger should be big change from the Viper that he drove last season.

One of the biggest car changes for 2009 will be '07 and '08 FD champion Tanner Foust's move from his proven Nissan 350Z to an all new,rear-drive converted Scion tC. Alongside Ken Gushi's Scion tC (which is getting a makeover for this season), Tanner's new car will make for two rear-drive tC's in the Formula D Field.

With all of the top-ranked drivers switching to new and unfamiliar cars for this season, this might be the perfect opportunity for some of FD's other drivers to step it up onto the podium.

Justin Pawlak should be on track to to have a kick ass season in '09, as anyone who remembers his battle with Tanner Foust during last year's Irwindale finale can attest.

For this season, JTP will be behind the wheel of the all new three-rotor turbocharged RX8 being built by Bergenholtz Racing. In case you missed it, check out Antonio's story on this car right here. In addition to JTP, former FC3S pilot Kyle Mohan will also be in a new RX8 this year. Along with Tony Angelo's car, there will be a nice showing of RX8's this year in Formula D.

Ryan "Hampshaa" Tuerck and the Gardella Racing team will also be out for blood this year in the new and improved Pontiac Solstice, which I highlighted on Speedhunters last week.

We also have the rest of the new Team Falken cars for 2009, including Tyler McQuarrie's V8-powered 350Z roadster…

…and Calvin Wan's S15 Silvia, which he talked about recently in a Speedhunters blog post . Another new Falken car to be on the lookout for is Daijiro Yoshihara's Lexus IS which is, being completed right now.

More drivers who could have big seasons in 2009, Chris Forsberg in the NOS 350Z vert, and Robbie Nishida who we expect to be back in the Hankook Z.

Recently, we have also heard that former D1 champion Katsuhiro Ueo will be appearing in Formula D this year in the Drift Speed S15 Silvia, as he did during the Red Bull WDC. Ueo should make for a fantastic addition to the FD roster with his years of drifting experience and of course his wild entries.

Another former D1 champion, Ryuji Miki will also be back this year behind the wheel of a redone version of the Apexi FD3S RX7.

Another Japanese driver that we'd like to see back in Formula D this year is Toshiki Yoshioka, who had a memorable win last summer in Vegas with his AE86. How cool would it be to see Toshiking competing stateside this year in his Lexus SC430?

Other Japanese drivers to watch this year will be Kenji Yamanaka and Kazu Hayashida, who are said to be running a pair of S15 Silvias built by Signal Auto in Japan.

Finally, Ireland's Eric O' Sullivan will also be shaking things up in this year with a rear-drive Subaru Impreza.

These are just some of the things to look out for during the upcoming season of Formula D, which should be an exciting one to say the least. Next weekend I'll be heading to the FD Tech Day in SoCal to get a closer look at some of the new cars for 2009.

Anyone care to share their picks for '09 FD champ?

Formula Drift

-Mike Garrett



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We heard that Autobacs was running into Chapter 11, but is Takatori coming back? He really shook shit up last year, and I wanna see how he'll do this year.


I don't really like Foust's switch from an actual car to one that RS*R used a loophole in the rule books to make. If that becomes a trend ForumlaD is going to be just like NASCAR, in which they started out with actual modified "stock" cars and now the closes thing to "stock" "on" the cars is the name.


That Challenger is awful, but at least JTP is bringing some style as is Calvin Wan. I really can't wait to see O'Sullivan, Irish pride all the way!


Great.... Still no Formula D in Texas... =/


Scion's have no place in drift. Like the guy above me said, this is FD, not NASCAR. Just because the Tc has the same body doesn't mean its remotely close to what the original car was. Drift was built on modding RWD cars to go sideways. Sponsors have no place choosing what car a driver should sit behind the wheel of. But sadly as drift gets bigger, companies want drivers in their car, regardless of whether or not the car is meant to be drifted, Don't get me wrong though, I'm glad to see some diversity among the S chassis Nissans, RX's, etc. But a Scion Tc? Get real.

I am glad to see JR, Tuerck, Millen, and Hubinette representing American car companies and of course the S chassis and RX's are the building blocks of drift. It will be an entertaining season im happy to see FD grow and more sponsors jump on board, but hopefully that won't effect the sport negatively


Dear Albatross,

I don't know if you are aware but....Hyundai is KOREAN!!!!! Millen = TEAM KOREA!!!!


My pics are Fors and JR

a story of 2 friends fighting for the championships

with the rotary guys fighting for 3rd and 4th


Ueo will kick ass but wont win, he already got shafted at Red Bull, Im assuming the same will happen all season. But Im totally down for some more D1 drivers taking the ranks in FD. Yay America!


Wow, Ueo competing in FD? He is totally going to kick some ***es over there!!! Also surprised that Miki is still going to compete in FD in the RX7. Didn't JTP replaced him at Bergenholtz, or are Bergenholtz running a 2 car team? Oh, and is Daigo Saito going to compete in FD? Heard some time ago he could appear in FD with his JZX, or is he just going to compete in D1GP USA?


ahhhh i wanna see long beach again this year.

formula d seems to be building exitment.

but i had to chose and im gunna se d1 in anahim SHADED SEATING RE I COME!!


Ivan Lim from Singapore will be in FD. He will be driving the red Pac Rim HKS S13


I'll be @ the top of the hill at road Atlanta. come eat some bbq & drink a beer w/ us.... Braille FTW !! & hatchi Bill.


I cant wait for this season. Too bad Ueo aint driving the Hachi anymore


Does Hubinette Challenger have a chopped roof? Is it even legal in FD?



Haha yea i dorked out and forgot Millen jumped from Pontiac to Hyundai...despite the gigantic picture above. I guess my brain was so clouded from the damn Scion's. But this just proves my point more, atleast Hyundai built a damn RWD car, yet Scion is pulling a Tokyo Drift and making a non-RWD car into one. I'm having these nightmare flashes of drift cars of the future being custom chassis and engines with fiberglass bodies. Does FD have a street legal class like D1?



Ueo coming back. FInally somethin to see in FD.


Btw tC's r still ilegal to me.

Formula Drift is playin stupic politics. Gettin paid by Toyota.


please note...

KUMAKUBO has been useing North-South converted rwd evos in D1GP for the past coupla years now.


Yea but EVO's and STi's can drift without the conversion so its not as big a deal and a scion Tc. Plus Kuma's cars are cool. The only Tc I like is the copper fatlace version.

Hmmm this years champ? Idk, the judging screw ups on formula D always ruin my thoughts of the series as a whole. I know its gonna be fun to watch tho, looking forward to it.


barf @ Samuel Hubinette's challenger


That challenger looks so tough and Cakvin's S15 looks tops too


Last I heard, no Takatori for 2009. Sucks for Autobacs but I wish he could have found another ride.


Ueo all the way.




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Get Ryuji Mikki back in his Top Secret S15/ORC Z33 and he will sht on everyone, yoshiyoka should swtich cars between his SC430 and 86, you know depending on the track. Takatori had a rough season last year but i think he should be use to the tracks now and whoop ass, As for foresberg, gitten and foust the only reason why they are good is because they have been running these tracks since the dawn of time.

Get all the "good" american drivers to D1 and well see if they will even have any points at the end of season... D1> FD.



takatori will not be returning unless he can find a ride. he was in so cal somewhat recently talking with teams but last i heard he didnt have anything.


Driftspeed and Ueo - Next champions.


Nooooooooo.... I dont want Tanner Foust to change his 350Z for a Scion TC that just not right!!!! He should get the new 370Z that's the car to have. Ohhh well hope the TC don't work for him and makes him get a 370Z